Covid-19 created unprecedented challenges around the world. Among the most problematic is how to safely educate children while controlling the virus. Many kids have had to miss school for months, as the pandemic continues to spread.
Students of all ages have had to make do with online classes- but only if they had access to wifi and computers. In the United States, millions of kids can’t access online learning from home.
To fix the digital divide in education, we need to understand its underlying causes. Read on for a summary of the digital divide and ideas that have been proposed to fix it.
What is the Digital Divide?
The National Telecommunications Information Administration summarizes the digital divide definition. It describes the gap between those who can use the internet and those who cannot. Sadly, the pandemic brought this gap to everyone’s attention in ways we could never have imagined.
Understanding the Digital Divide
The Digital Divide is based on underlying causes that are too complex to fully summarize in a short article. Examples of the digital divide are as follows:
Pandemic or not, computers and internet access are expensive. This is always a problem for students who need to learn remotely but can’t afford the technology.
Many families lost income during the pandemic, as businesses closed and jobs evaporated. In survival situations, groceries, rent, and car payments are always prioritized over buying internet service and new laptops.
Cities and suburbs indeed have zones where internet access is rare. But rural areas often lack basic resources that are taken for granted in more highly popular areas. The major internet providers may not reach remote areas, and if they do, high-speed internet may not be reliable.
How Schools Can Bridge the Digital Divide in Education
Schools have the most power to help children get online. In some areas, school districts have deployed their buses to neighborhoods lacking internet access. Students can then use the onboard wifi hotspot on each wifi bus to complete online assignments.
Bridging the digital divide might mean lending computers to students, providing affordable internet options, and better funding for technology for all students. Satellite internet is a brand-new technology that’s still being tested, but if the pandemic lasts it may become more widely used.
Partnering with community centers like churches, hospitals, and libraries is also worth trying. Most importantly, schools can use their important status in communities to petition for funding and help students connect with outside educational resources.
Stay Informed About Technology, Education, and More
The digital divide in education must be fixed if students are to stay on track during the pandemic. Bridging the gap will also be a key factor in the ability for students to catch up on missed academics after covid-19 ends.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful for understanding how covid-19 has impacted the digital divide. For more articles about technology and more, read the rest of our blog.